High-Level Meeting on Gender Equality Closes with Adoption of Bangkok Declaration for Beijing+15

Reaffirming their commitment to women’s empowerment, Ministers and senior officials from 40 countries closed a three day high-level meeting reviewing regional progress in gender equality with the adoption of the Bangkok Declaration for Beijing +15 which will intensify the region’s effort to improve the lives of women and girls.

“I have been pleased to witness a renewed commitment to seeking common solutions, building upon regional strengths and forging new partnerships to promote regional cooperation,” said Dr. Noeleen Heyzer, Executive Secretary of ESCAP. “Through our collective efforts the Asia Pacific region could be a place where women and girls live free from poverty, free from violence and free from discrimination.”

The Bangkok Declaration, which represents the outcome document for the Asia Pacific High-Level Intergovernmental Meeting to Review Regional Implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action at Fifteen Years, is forward-looking and action oriented reflecting the issues and needs of the Asia-Pacific region.

“This outcome document provides us with a coherent regional position and strong voice to the world on how we would like to contribute to promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment,” said Ms. Yoriko Meguro of the Japanese Delegation who served as Rapporteur of the High-Level Meeting and Chairperson of the Drafting Committee.
The Declaration will serve as Asia-Pacific’s regional input to the global review of the Beijing Platform for Action at the 54th session of the Commission on the Status of Women in 2010 as well as a call for action in the region on critical issues for gender equality and women’s rights.

With its adoption, governments committed to concerted action in areas such as the establishment of accountability mechanisms that promote gender responsiveness in national policymaking, statistical capacity building, providing support to women farmers, poverty eradication programs for women, women’s entrepreneurship, and information and communication technologies. A stronger regional coordination role for ESCAP, such as for the Secretary-General’s Campaign UNiTE to End Violence against Women, is contained in the Declaration.

The high-level meeting featured five panel discussions on the topics of accountability for gender equality and women’s empowerment, women’s economic security and rights, closing gender gaps in the Millennium Development Goals, implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and the regional campaign to end violence against women.

The meeting was highlighted by a reception launch of a UNIFEM photo exhibition “Women CAN! Women’s Rights are Human Rights” commemorating the 30th anniversary of CEDAW.

“As we reflect on our progress – we must recognize our accountability to women. Let us seize the opportunity of this moment and renew our obligations to eliminate systemic and historical discrimination and violence against women … Let us all, governments, leaders of the region, civil society, and activists commit to the full implementation of CEDAW in the region,” said Dr. Heyzer during the opening ceremony of the CEDAW exhibition.

The meeting also featured side events on gender and HIV, best practices in domestic violence legislation, and gender, energy and climate change organized by UN agencies and partners.

For more information on the meeting, please visit the website: http://www.unescap.org/ESID/GAD/Events/HLM-2009/index.asp.